Montgomery Place, touched by greatness

Sammy Dalati

Sammy Dalati Magazine

Montgomery Place, east façade.

While notable for many reasons, the Montgomery Place estate in Annandale-on-Hudson is most distinctive for having enjoyed the attention of two famed American tastemakers of the mid-nineteenth century: architect Andrew Jackson Davis and landscape designer Andrew Jackson Downing.

Janet Livingston Montgomery built the original 1805 manor at Montgomery Place in the boxy Federal style, and some thirty-six years later, her fashionable heirs called on Davis to give it a facelift. This he did almost literally. While adding pavilions on both sides of the house, along with columns, swags, and other neoclassical details, Davis repainted and sanded the clapboard exterior to give it the look of cut stone.

At about the same time, Downing was enlisted to draw up plans for the grounds. An influential proponent of “picturesque” landscapes, he created a mix of the formal and rustic, including parterre flower gardens and a conservatory, and a network of woodland trails that is still in use today. At Montgomery Place, Downing wrote in his magazine, The Horticulturalist, in 1847, a visitor experiences “the whole heart of nature…full of quiet harmony and joy.”

The house and its 380–acre estate became part of the Bard College campus in 2016, and are open to the public.